Sunday, December 30, 2007

A view backwards and a bald eagle

I have named a new fungus. I found it on a walk today.....
Deer poop fungus. (feces deerus)
Deer poop fungus
Seriously....I don't know what it is, but it was on a tree at eye level, and the first thing I thought was "Wow. Looks like a deer pooped upward."

I finally got a few good pictures of our bald eagle:
Bald eagle 3

Bald eagle 2

I have been looking out for this guy for a week or more. He seems to have disappeared for a while, but I saw him today in his tree along the road near the "gravel pits". Click HERE to read about my birding walk with KatDoc at the Pits.

I was looking back at a post from a year ago....I was out in the middle of Ohio looking for a snowy owl. Click HERE to read about what I saw. (It was everything but a snowy.)
And since I am in a reflective mood (okay, not really. Just wanted to bore all of you) I put together a little list from this time last year. Heck, I might even go through the WHOLE year.

Here's a funny conversation between Isabelle and myself from last Christmas:

M & M's have a lot more caffeine in them than you think.
Isabelle and Lorelei loaded up on them before we left Mom's house. Lorelei, bless her heart, passed out before we could even hit the highway, but Isabelle was wired for sound. It is a 45-minute drive home, and she didn't shut up the whole time.
Sample of our conversation:
Isabelle: Why do we have hands?
Susan: So we can pick things up.
I: What would happen if we didn't have brains?
S: We wouldn't be alive.
I: Oh. Yar. Yar. Yar. Yar. Yar. Yar.

2 minutes later:

I: Yar. Yar. Yar. Mommy, these lights look familar. Are we on our exit?
S: Not yet.
I: That looks like a hotel.
S: It is.
I: Why do they have hotels in INDIANA???
S: We are in Ohio now.
S: *sigh*
I: Frosty, the Snowman, was a jolly, happy soul....
I: Why do we have noses?
A video of Junior singing me a Love Song.
A Mad Mothering Moment:
We went to the local Kohl's, and the girls love the double carts they have, so two kids can sit in them at once. Well, there were no double carts, only singles.
***Enter chaos***
The girls fought. They threw punches. They screamed. They refused to listen. They lay on the floor refusing to move.
I have never seen them like this. Even on their worst days, I can get them to at least see reason. Not today.
But all of you would be so proud of me, if you could have seen me in action. I could have turned into one of those "Wal-mart Moms", you know the ones, who hit their children in public and scream. But I actually saw the humor in it. At one point during Lorelei's attempt to reach optimum decibel level, Isabelle belted out, "Mommy! Take a picture of her!" And I broke into hysterical laughter. It was so damn funny. And it only made them madder. And I laughed harder. (think that maybe Isabelle will be a Blogger someday?)
We left the store as fast as I could get out.
I won't be taking them shopping again until they are 30.
Who remembers the "Unschooling" fiasco?
I can't wait to get back to Cape May....
Some of the animals I have fell in love with in the past year (including ones that I have lost)



RAPTOR'S gray screech owl (He was put down the other day....his feet had deteriorated and this condition was not treatable. It could have been a liver problem (which can cause trouble with beaks and talons) or something else. Rest in peace, little one.
02-2007 192 copy
The time I was suspected of terrorism.

That's all the time I have for today, folks! Tune in tomorrow for my riveting, inspiring views and thoughts about the year 2007. I know, I know. It will be hard to sleep tonight, thinking of a new post from me, but take an Advil PM and come back tomorrow!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Dude looks like a Lady

I didn't get any pictures of myself at the Boar's Head Festival this year, but you aren't missing anything. Just go back to last year's pictures. I look the same. 50 pounds of clothing, no pants...

The pudding
Here's the Pudding. It was REAL.

The Yule FRuitcake
And this is the Yule Fruitcake. It was real, too. But with fruitcake, does that even make a difference?

The bootie things
Instead of shoes or boots, everyone has to wear these knitted bootie things. They were Hell on my poor feet. The floors in the church are stone. My dogs are barkin'.

Standard bearer
One of the standard bearers...

Lucy Boar's Head Festival
And there's Lucy!

She was incredible. This pageant is 100 people in colorful costumes, and there are lights and a huge pipe organ and swelling music and so many things that she should have panicked about. But she was so unbelievably calm. And she did the same things as last was like she knew when it was time to ham it up. The music would build and roll over the crowd, and her wings would come out and she would stand there on my hand as beautiful as she has ever looked.
I love her so much. Have I mentioned that before?

Nathan my page
This is Nathan, one of my pages. I had another one, but she was too busy running around with her friends to hang out with us much. Nathan was a doll. So, during the big break between our parts of the performance, we chilled out in the undercroft and I bought him a Coke.
(The pages carried my "bow" and "quiver of arrows"....I carried Lucy.)

14th century poker game
A 14th century Poker game.

Friday, December 28, 2007

It's that time again....for me to go be a fabulous drag queen

Tomorrow is the first performance of the Boar's Head and Yule Log Festival.
It was my first time last year, and I LOVED IT. All the pageantry, all the costumes and music and fabulousness.
Check me out in my 14th century huntsman get-up from last year. Please, please, may there be a new costume designer. I mean, I wasn't even wearing pants.

Hmmmm....I was just looking at my title. If a man dresses like a woman, he is a drag queen. But if a woman dresses like a man, she is a..... what? Just a cross-dresser? That doesn't have quite the flair that "drag queen" has, does it?

I will ask my "pages" (yes, I will have STAFF!) to take a few pictures tomorrow. Because I have no shame when it comes to blogging. Even though I am going to look like some sort of sissy-man, I must BLOG ABOUT IT.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

PMS....check. Eye Twitch...check. Sanity...OUT OF STOCK

When do these kids go back to SCHOOL?

Even with the zillion toys and books they received for Christmas, they have spent the day bitching, fighting, whining, and then bitching some more.

Isabelle: Mom! She took my Ugly Doll!
Lorelei: No I didn't!

Lorelei: Mommy! Isabelle licked me!
Isabelle: *evil chuckle*

Isabelle: Mom! Lorelei is looking at me while I am trying to read!
Lorelei: *evil chuckle*

Lorelei: Mommy! I wanna do the Sit 'n' Spin! Isabelle has been on it for a million years!
Isabelle: Mom! She was on it this morning!

Isabelle: Mom!
Lorelei (copying her): Mom!
Isabelle: Stop!
Lorelei: Stop!
Isabelle: STOP!!!!!
Lorelei: STOP!!!!
Isabelle: Stop IT! I mean it!
Lorelei: Stop IT! I mean it!

Have you ever wanted to rip off your own head and throw it at someone?

I had to take our laptop in for repair (SOMEONE, who is not owning up to it, broke the CD-ROM drive platform) and afterwards, I drove around looking for birds. And the girls didn't shut up for more than a few seconds throughout the drive.

At one point, I realized that they were playing nicely. I listened to their made-up stories:

Isabelle: Hi! My name is Ugly. I'm orange with a blue apron.
Lorelei: Hi! I'm Mr. Frisbee (yes, it was a real frisbee). I am green with black stripes.

Also included was a stuffed cat, sea turtle and a clown fish.

They established that they were Lost Toys (hear the capital letters there?) and they were going to be one big happy family....because their old families didn't want them around anymore.
Isabelle: My family didn't like me anymore because I am orange and have a blue apron.
Lorelei: My family doesn't love me because I have writing on my shirt.

Dang, that's a rough crowd. I thought MY family was disapproving.

Let's cleanse a little with bird photos:

11 on the feeder
Highest number of bewds on the new bad-ass feeder: ELEVEN! Someday, I will get 20.
Oh yes. I will get them.

Juv RT
Here's the juvenile red-tailed hawk we first saw at Armleder yesterday.
See the short tail? That's your field mark that says this is not a red-shouldered or a really big Coop.

Juv RT take off
And there you can see the brownish-striped tail...that tells you that this is a younger bird.

But you know, my day has stuck with me even with the perdy birds....
Let me show you the doll my Mom got for Lorelei....and how freakishly happy it is>
Freakishly happy
To me, that seems like a disturbing amount of baby-joy. I want to pinch it and make it cry.

Let's look at it again....

Freakishly happy
Is it me? Or do the rest of you want to bite off one of those cellulite-filled cheeks?

It's like Chucky on estrogen therapy.

Oh! It has freakish eyes, too. Like a movie vampire>
Freaky eyes
"The better to suck out your soul, lady. I wouldn't fall asleep tonight, if I were you."

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Post-Holiday Randomosity

I wanted to show off one of my favoritest (Yesssssss, Geoff. I know that's not a word.) gifts.

A TWENTY-PORT finch feeder!

5 on the big feeder
This was a gift from Rachel, my Sorta-Someday-Sister-In-Law. She reads my blog, faithfully, it sounds like, and she remembered that I was whining about wanting one. And voila.
Want one?
Thank you, Rachel. It RAWKS.
She also included a #10 bag of thistle, and it took a full #5 to fill this bad boy. I've had it up for one day and there are 2 inches gone so far.

Titmouse and cardinal suet dough
Time to make the Zick Dough!
There's a rare moment. A titmouse sitting still for more than 0.5 seconds.

Where'd everybody go

two red-tails at Armleder
A quick trip to Armleder gave us two red-tailed hawks. A juvenile and an adult. If you click on the photo, I added notes to the case you can't see who is who. We watched the adult chase off the whippersnapper.

My only gripe for this Holiday season....
I didn't get an Ugly Doll.

And Isabelle did.

Wage the Ugly Doll
Why did I want one? Well, look at it! Is that the weirdest thing you have ever seen?
And that's exactly why I want one.
But my birthday is coming up, so maybe if I am good.....
Just in case anyone is keeping track, I will be 30-freakin'-5 on January 2nd.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Some things I have learned

I've learned a few things in my day. Examples:
Cuteness at the KFC
Sometimes cuteness can come upon you when you are least expecting at the local Kentucky Fried Chicken. This was staring at me as I pulled into a parking space.

And when you give kids chocolate, craziness ensues:
Post chocolate crazy 1

crazy 2

crazy 3
Boing boing boing...

crazy 4
I really love this one. I think Lorelei is about to break into an aria.

crazy 5
Boing boing boing...

crazy 6
Boing boing boing.....

More words of wisdom:

Warn your stylist if you are about to sneeze. Especially if he or she is working on your bangs.

Don't run a red light while in the presence of bloggers. 'Cause thou wilst never hear the end of it.

A sick dog will prepare to vomit by walking OFF the linoleum and move to the carpet.

Wet gravel does not hold up a car.

A love story about an owl just might turn out beautifully.
Speaking of our beautiful Junior, I received some awesome photos of him, thanks to his new "people"....
He is being trained for flight demonstrations:


LOOK at that wing span!!!!!

Kill it, Junior! Get the fake skunk! Sic 'em!

My heart just swells up huge when I look at these pictures. He is happy, he is loved, he is busy learning new things. And since he is a very young great horned owl (three or so) he has a long life ahead of him.
I would LOVE to have a flighted, imprinted bird to use at RAPTOR. Imagine that. It's tres cool to handle these guys and have them sit patiently (most of the time) on my hand, but to have one that you can release to fly over a crowd and return to you? OMG.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Some pictures from the last few days:

Female red-bellied woodpecker with serious boobage
This female red-bellied woodpecker was showing off some serious boobage the other day. It was cold that day, but jeepers! Get a girdle, girlfriend!

Animal truck
How many animal names does one truck need?
There are a total of four "Bobcats", a "Dingo" and a "Toro".
A quick search showed that "Toro" is the name of a spiny rat in the genus Isothrix in South America, the type of tuna used in sushi and the Italian and Spanish word for bull. See how much you can learn here on this blog? I am so interesting.

Step Children
My Step Children.

Melanie enjoys a Coke
My second cousin once removed...or something....or third cousin? Anyway, this is Melanie. She is 19 months old and the Coke can was empty. But I took a picture to blackmail my cousins someday, if I need to. :)
Melanie is a sweet, pleasant kid. I'm sure that she keeps her parents on her toes, but once she warmed up to all of her weird kin, she was a peach.

Melanie and me
Melanie, me and my new "PISH OFF" t-shirt. Isabelle can read now, and she kept making the "pish" sound today. Everyone at my Mom's (we had our family holiday get-together tonight) thought they knew what it meant, but I had to explain the art of pishing. My family isn't really into birds. I feel like a genetic anomaly.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Species profile: American Kestrel

I haven't done a species profile in a while. And I am avoiding the ungodly amount of gift wrapping I should be doing right now.

American Kestrel

The American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) is a small falcon. An old colloquial name for the kestrel was "Sparrow Hawk", which was misleading because it seemed to imply a connection to the Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus), where they is no connection. (Sparrowhawks are accipiter hawks, not falcons) And kestrels are neither sparrows or hawks. I hate colloquial names.
You can find kestrels throughout the Americas. Most of the northern birds (Canada and the northern states) migrate south in winter, thought some males may stay as year-round residents. There are at least 15 sub-species.

Just like all raptors, kestrels are sexually dimorphic. Females are larger than males:
Females: 9 to 11 inches in length, wingspan 21 to 24 inches, weight averages at 4.2 ounces.
Males: 8 to 10 inches in length, wingspan 20 to 22 inches, weight averages at 3.9 ounces.
These differences are hard to discern in the field...but kestrels are unique from most raptors in that the males and females are colored differently. Males have blue-gray wings, and the females have barred, rusty colored wings. Tails are different, too. Males have a striking rufous tail with the outer rectrix set in white with a black terminal band. Females have a striped rufous tail. All this makes them undoubtedly the most colorful raptor.

back of AK
(RAPTOR, Inc's male kestrel)
*This next part comes from Wikipedia...I tried to condense it. This is a new bit of information I came across*
This bird is apparently not a true kestrel. mtDNA cytochrome b sequence analysis indicates a Late Miocene split between the ancestors of the American Kestrel, and those of the Common Kestrel and its closest relatives. The color pattern with its large areas of brown is reminiscent of kestrels, but the coloration of the head - notably the black ear patch, which is not found in any of the true kestrels - and the male's extensively gray wings are suggestive of a closer relationship with the hobbies, an informal grouping of falcons of usually average size.

Species such as the Merlin and the Aplomado Falcon may be possible close relatives. The Merlin is a highly polymorphic bird and although its grey tail and back are distinctive, certain morphs are the only birds that might conceivably be confused with American Kestrels. Conclusive evidence is lacking, and what can be said at present judging from the fairly noninclusive DNA sequence studies is that the general relationships of the present species seem to lie with a number of rather basal "hobby" lineages, such as the Merlin and Aplomado Falcon mentioned already, or the Red-footed and Amur Falcons - or even the Peregrine Falcon lineage with its large species.

The American Kestrel is not very closely related to any of these groups, although it might be closer to the Aplomado Falcon (and its presumed close relatives, the Bat and Orange-breasted Falcons) than to any other living species - an association that is also supported by biogeography than a close relationship with the exclusively Old World true kestrels. It is nonetheless highly distinct in morphology from any of these and, interestingly, has a syrinx similar to the Peregrine and the hierofalcons.

In conclusion, until better evidence is available, it is best considered part of a radiation of falcon lineages that diversified around the North Atlantic at the end of the Miocene. Though several fossils of small falcons arte known from North America at roughly the correct time, the earliest testimony of the American Kestrel lineage is Pleistocene remains of the living species.

Confused? Yeah, me too. Let's move on....

Kestrels are birds of open spaces...parks, suburbs, open fields, forest openings and edges and highway corridors. They are the only North American falcon to routinely hover, and they can keep their heads motionless as they beat their wings against the wind. (I do a cute thing with our kestrel at RAPTOR...I bounce him gently up and down and show how he can do a "bobble-body")

A "klee-klee-klee"...Click here to listen.

In summer, kestrels feed largely on grasshoppers, dragonflies, lizards, mice, and voles. They will also eat other small birds. Wintering birds feed primarily on rodents and birds. They hunt along roadsides from telephone wires, fence posts, trees or other convenient perches when not flying in search of food. Just before diving in to catch something, they will bob their heads and pump their tails.

Kestrels are cavity nesters. They will use holes in trees, rock cavities, small spaces on buildings and artificial nest boxes. No nest is built inside the cavity.
Pairs nesting in boxes on poles have much higher nesting success than pairs using boxes on trees. Both sexes will share the job of incubation, a very rare situation among North American birds of prey. Between 3 and 7 eggs are laid and they hatch about 30 days later. The young fledge around day 30.

American Kestrels, along with the Red-tailed Hawk, are one of two raptors almost universally used by new (apprentice) falconers in the United States. They are considered a harder bird to care for, due to its small size, quick metabolism and fragility. Their weight must be carefully monitored and maintained to within a few tenths of a gram.
Kestrels can be used to hunt insects (um, WHY?) and small birds, usually non-native species like house sparrows and starlings.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

These are a few of my favorite things....the RAPTOR edition

I thought I would begin a series of my favorite things. I started this a while back, but it never went anywhere. Since Christmas is just around the corner, now's a good a time as any...
Some of my favorite RAPTOR:

helen me and girls
One of my favorite pictures of a bird and myself. Helen, our very old red-tailed hawk. She died about 3 months after this was taken. She was so beautiful.

Okay...what can you say about this one
Never has an owl looked so....what? Is there a word for how pitiful this is?

That's more like it...he looks like a little owl-angel.

Big ol earl and me
Earl, our turkey vulture. Earl....sigh. I would like it very much if we could become friends. I can't take her out for programs because her carrier won't fit in my car, but even so...she doesn't think much of me. One of our volunteers said that it's just that I am not interpreting Earl's love properly.

Can I come up there please
Ahh... the time Lucy stepped onto my shoe and tried to climb up my pants. God love her.

I disapprove of your panty hose
Sylvester, the great horned owl, does not approve of my panty hose.

Elvis...I miss him very much.

Isabelle's pic of Elvis
...and so does Isabelle.

A sign just for me!
When the public appreciates my makes it all worthwhile.

I love Lucy. Period.

Isis glow
Even Isis, in her bitchy-prone attitude, is a vision of loveliness.

Watching the citizen who called us about an injured bird RELEASE that same
Isn't it nice when people CARE?

No No
I love being able to go look at a barn owl whenever I want.